Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

#AndThatsWhyYoureImportant

#AndThatsWhyYoureImportant is trending today. There are all kinds of things I can write that are uplifting, things I believe about how everyone is important, my belief that I need to Love Everybody and Make ‘em Feel Good About Themselves, and unconditional love. I could put in the quote from the West Wing about the man who falls in a hole and how I will always jump om that hole with you, no matter how long it’s been or what has passed under a burned bridge.

Instead, I will tell you what I do at my part-time job.

I work at a group home for developmentally disabled adults part-time. I do this for a number of reasons, some financial, some personal and some because MY BACK UP PLANS HAVE BACK UP PLANS (proof that your children eventually do know you well) but a big part of it is that I want to have a job that does some good. Since we gotta earn, might as well earn in a way that makes someone else’s life better.

We have a resident who is on hospice care. She’s non-verbal, can no longer walk and her sight and hearing are poor. She stays in bed most of the time as we work to keep her comfortable. Every time, when I come into work, I go into her room, check on her, and if she’s awake, I hold her hand. She grabs on tight and shakes her hands in the air, waving her hand around and sometimes “singing” as she does so.

When she could walk, she would dance by stomping her feet, waving her hands in the air and “singing”. Sometimes, when I do a sleeping shift, if I come in and she’s agitated, I’ll go into her room and hold her hand until she either calms down or her pain meds take effect and she goes to sleep.

It’s a little thing to me. Just 5 – 10 minutes on a normal shift or up at 30 minutes on an overnight sleep shift. I’m just holding her hand and being there, and sometimes I put in a CD for her to listen to and sing along in my VERY deep voice (which has a tonne of bass in it) and she can feel the vibrations.

Guess what? You can do something like this too. Open a door for someone, pay it forward at the coffee shop, call a friend whose facebook posts make them sound sad or lonely, help a co-worker, bring a glass of water to someone who can’t get away from their desk, have extra cough drops in your pocket, text someone you haven’t heard from in a while and ask them how they are doing, send a joke to someone you care about, forgive everyone, pick up that trash someone accidentally dropped and throw it away, give someone in your neighborhood cookies, whatever. You can do a little thing to make it better for everyone.

SO many people on my feed are upset about political things, social things, economic things…I get it. I do. But if you can’t change the macro, change the micro. Why are you important? Because every day is another chance to make things better.

Much love to friends old and new, and while it’s a cliché, you CAN be the change you want to see in the world.

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Be Aggressive, Be Be Agressive

“You need to be aggressive in order to be successful! If you aren’t fighting, you’re losing!” – Business e-mail I received today.

I was not aggressive when I worked in juvenile justice and I was able to stay in that field for 20 years. I worked with literally hundreds of teenage boys and assisted many in putting their lives back together and getting the skills they needed to make it on their own.

I was not aggressive when I raised my son on my own and helped him become a kind, tolerant human being who sees everyone as having worth.

I was not aggressive when I was in relationships and worked hard on being someone who treated my partner with respect and kindness while being as loving and attentive as I was capable of being.

I am not aggressive with my friends, and do what I can to be there for them, to listen to them when they needed an ear, assist when they needed help, and enjoy their company when we are together.

I am not aggressive with my podcast, writing or other creative ventures and do everything in my power to help other people build their audience if I can.

Not everyone is made to be aggressive. I’m not in sales, and I learned in a single afternoon in a outgoing call center that I am NOT aggressive when it comes to selling things. I’m not aggressive toward other people because I believe that if someone has to be “won over” they won’t stick with you for long. I’m not aggressive in my beliefs because I no longer feel the need to win anyone over to my way to thinking, we ALL have our own way of thinking and that’s beautiful.

It’s fine if you are aggressive as long as you aren’t a jerk about it. But the whole “everything is competition” grows more and more hollow to me the more I realize that together we build things and in competition we destroy each other.

If that’s losing, then I’m OK with it.

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Yeah, I Suck

I have held off on announcing this because I am a bit ashamed of it, but: I am tapping out on NaNoWriMo this year. I will still work on the novel when I can, and am pegging 12/31/2016 as the date for finishing, but with work being an extra bear this year due to my full-ti8me job becoming and ACTUAL full time job, it being our busy season and my computer mishaps last week, I just have not had the time to sit in the chair and do the work.

It also is why the Solo podcast, the Weekly News Update podcast and Novelcast have been delayed. Just no time to do anything but keep the Kray Z Comics and Stories train running on time, and hopefully you folks have heard the improvements we’ve made to it over the last couple of months.

The other stuff fires back up in December, and I’ll be sending out interview requests at that time. If YOU want to promote an upcoming project, feel like doing DVD commentary on a comic you have worked on or admire, let me know as well, as the “Comics In Review” podcast fires up after the first of the year. HOPEFULLY, it will start with the much promised Master of Kung Fu commentary, but that’s up to my best pal and brother from another mother Joe Rider’s schedule.

To be blunt, I feel like I have let people down with this, and all I can do is say that I’m sorry, but the paying work has to take precedence over the work that isn’t paying yet. Now would be a good time to check out some of the great shows I have done in the past interviewing some amazing folks or my audio biography of Jack Kirby to get ready for things at Solitaire Rose Productions to get back on track.

Much love to friends old and new, listeners and creators who have helped me get this far!

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The Lack of Jobs Of The Future

A number of factors are going to change employment in the next few years, but the biggest one I am not hearing anything about from the people who do political analysis is the effect of self-driving card. WE all think it means cabs will be self-driving or we can just putz around on our daily commute, but there is something HUGE going to happen.

Rural American is very reliant on trucking jobs. The farming economy has shifted from family farm to factories, so many of the people in rural parts of the country rely on trucking jobs. They pay well, as opposed to the minimum wage jobs at factory farms and Wal-Mart, but once the self-driving cars show up, the first massive use of the technology will be to eliminate driving jobs in trucking. People drive too long to make miles, get paid a lot compared to the upkeep of a system, and the self-driving tech is showing to be safer and will only become better with time.

And of the last sources of good income for rural America will be gone. The people who are already mad that their way of life is “under attack” will get the rub ripped out from under them AGAIN, as they did with Reagan, Bush, et. al.

What sort of jobs will there be for them? Yes, the Baby Boomers are finally leaving the work force, but will there be enough jobs for people? And when it happens that there Just Aren’t Enough Jobs, not everyone can make their own business selling quilts and cleaning houses. We are looking at another revolution, just not one with guns like has been talked about since Clinton. The revolution will be of the industrial sort.

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Thought for today after a rough workweek

“Cory!!, such and such person was terrible to you, will you let them back in your life? Don’t you HATE them?”

“You hate me, don’t you?”

“How can you forgive them? They are terrible!”

“Please don’t hate me! Please?!?”

“I’m so sorry. I understand if you don’t ever want to talk to me again.”

“How do you even still talk to that person, they are such a jerkl!”

“Come on, you can’t forgive EVERYONE in your life, can you?”

So. People do shitty things to each other. Does that mean they are terrible human beings? No. Sorry, I don’t believe in the “some people are good and some are bad” unless we get to the extremes, serious sociopathy, child abuse and the like. For normal, everyday shittiness, I have a much different mindset. It’s hard to get past the hurt of their vitriol, but when you place yourself in a mindset of forgiveness and empathy, you can move from target to observer.

It’s hard, but you have to remember that it’s Not About You.

In a healthy relationship of any kind, mistakes are just that, mistakes. People discuss them, work through the feelings and move forward. When someone is toxic, they see the mistake as an attack and as such, need to pass judgement and impose punishment. It can be from verbal attacks to withdrawal of contact (remember that physical abuse is beyond the line and you are dealing with someone who needs to be removed from your life immediately), but it’s not about you and you shouldn’t take anything personally.

The only reason these have hurt us is because somewhere deep inside they are hurting themselves. Something has happened to them that has hurt them, and they are lashing out, much like how, when an animal is caught in a trap, they will attack anything that comes near them, even if that other animal is trying to help.

They have been cruel, derogatory and rip apart anything positive you have done for them because they are not well. However outwardly confident they may look, however happy and active they may appear, their actions are all the evidence we need that they cannot, in truth, be in a good place. It’s the old rule of going by what people DO rather than what they SAY.

When you don’t take anything personally, you can observe their behaviors, understand why they are doing what they do and act accordingly. It may be to explain how you will change your behavior. It may be to simply listen and let them get the poison out. It may, sadly, have to be that you disengage until they are willing to interact without attacking.

In the end, it’s not about you. It’s about them. And because of that, you forgive them and love them despite the pain they have gone through.

Much love to friends old and new, and I hope that those who have hurt you are able to heal, that you are able to heal and you live in unconditional love and forgiveness.

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What I am thinking about today.

This morning I asked people “IN a world that doesn’t seem to reward being kind, why be kind?”

I got some very good answers (and wish I would have gotten more, you slackers), but I said that I have my own reason for being kind:

First: I don’t believe in any supernatural beings, gods, or the rest. I believe what I see and experience, so… I think that we are all we’ve got. We’ve made it to the top of the food chain, and the only predators that threaten us are each other. We can make this brief existence good or bad, and I choose to do what I can to make it good (as best I can and to my abilities) because We Are All We’ve Got.

Second: The good we do can outlive us. If I plant a tree, I may not get to read in its shade, but someone will, and I want to help that future person. When I do a kindness that has branches in the future, I feel good that I am not contributing to the further degradation of the planet or those of us that live on it. I can’t very well fight for the environment, human rights, etc… if I am an asshole, now can I? OK, I can’t without a lot of cognitive dissonance.

Last: In my 20’s and early 30’s, I was a bitter sarcastic person due to the things that had happened to me growing up and as a young adult. I felt the world was out to get me, people were terrible and it was a dog eat dog world. In 1999, I decided through a series of things that I didn’t want to be that person any more, and I hung my hat on the Kurt Vonnegut quote: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” I decided I would pretend to be kind. I would pretend to be open to change and improvement. I would be open to unconditional love, no matter the cost (and the cost has been pretty damned high, let me tell you). I would pretend to be the kind of person I wanted in my life, so that if no one ever came into my life on a deeper level, I would at least have me.

Yep, shitty things happen. Good people get ground into paste by jerks. But….

“The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round and it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: ‘Is this real? Or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.

‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry; look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that — ever notice that? — and we let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because… it’s just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would do many times over — not one human being excluded — and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace. “ – Bill Hicks.

 

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Seeking Attention

I saw it again today, and just want to make a note of it. Someone posted something on Facebook (Oooooo, be more vague, Cory!!) and a “friend” replied “You’re just seeking attention.”

Well….yeah. That’s why you post things. That’s why you share pictures of what you are doing, statuses of your thoughts, a funny joke you saw, something you think is clever, a project you’re in the middle of, something you completed and want people to know about, party invitations, selfies, and so on.

So. What?

I WANT to know these things. It’s why I follow you on social media. If someone is proud, or lonely, or sad, or giddy or isolated, what is wrong with giving them attention? We all want to know that someone out there cares about us and wants us to do well. I think that once you get past the basic needs of shelter and safety, we want to know that someone out there loves us. Isolation drives depression, and there is nothing wrong with being a Who on Horton’s dandelion, shouting out “We are here!” hoping that we connect with someone. That they like what we have to say, they think our picture captures us at our best or simply that we have companionship.

So seek attention. Tell me what you think. Share your life. You matter and you are enough and I am glad to see it, even if it’s a statement I disagree with.

Much love to friends old and new, and if you need attention, I have an unlimited amount to give.

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The Infamous Halloween Blizzard of 1991

25 years ago was the Halloween blizzard.

My son and I were invited to a birthday party for one of my friend’s kids, and when I got off of work at Shinder’s, I picked him up at daycare and we got on the freeway. Then, the snow hit. We were stuck in traffic for over two hours, and while it was a long time to wait, the way home was just as long, and I decided that since we were already out in it, we might as well finish. He was in his beloved Spider-Man pajamas, and we listened to the radio as we sat in traffic.

When we got there, there were no other children because, well, they were smart and stayed home. This was my son’s first Halloween where he was old enough to understand trick or treating, so we went door to door (which was going to be part of the party) and loaded up, walking through streets and sidewalks covered in snow.

We got a LOAD of candy and came back, had cake and warmed up, and listened to the news to see when the roads had cleared up a bit, and we drove back, and I dropped him off at his mother’s.

Once I got home, I was stuck. The next morning, I tried to dig my way out, and in trying to move the car, the transmission dropped. It was a crappy little Chevette, and I was always having transmission trouble in my memory, but the good thing was that when I called work to tell them I wouldn’t be in, they said they weren’t opening the suburban stores. Since the car wouldn’t be fixed until that Monday (the tow truck made it to my place late Friday night), I was set to be home for the next few days.

However, the group home I worked at was snowed in, and the staff who was working that weekend had actually been snowed in since Thursday night…and he called Saturday, begging me to come in and work. I stated I couldn’t due to being snowed in and having no car, and he offered to drive to my house and pick me up if I would take over the shift….so, a few hours later, the van with all of the residents and the staff showed up at my6 house and brought me in to work.

The group home was in a bad way as well, since the fridge had died, so the food for the Refrigerator was in the bathtub in the staff office, with snow keeping it cold, and the freezer food was kept outside to stay frozen until a repairman could show on Monday. The residents were bored out of their minds, so there were lots of arguments and chaos….it was just not a good shift at all.

But, I made I through, paid for the car repair, and life got back to normal. However…the next year, mid-October, my son told me, “I can’t wait for the first snow!”

“Why is that?”

“Because that’s when you go to people’s houses and get candy.”

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Quote from last night’s Walking Dead

I’m sorry. For whatever bad you’ve been through. There’s so much of it out there now, you know? Too much. Out there, it feels like it’s all bad. Especially when you’re alone.

The thing is, though? It’s not all bad. It can’t be. It isn’t. Life isn’t. When there’s life there’s hope, heroism, grace, and love. When there’s life, there’s life.

Exactly.  And not just for that world, but for ours.

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Some more details on “Nice vs Kind”

Nice is a social construct. Doing what society expects to either curry favor or maintain societal norms. Nice people do things for people and then tell you all about it, much like how Donald Trump goes on and on and on about how much he gives to charity or when he hugs the flag at a rally. Or how a man opens a door for a woman and kinda forgets to do it for a man or a child. Or a woman who asks someone about themselves when they first meet, but soon never asks that same person about how they are doing. It is transactional, and meant to get something.

 

Kind is internal and doesn’t give a damn about what other people think as long as it leads to a easing of a burden or helps someone or something. Kind is cleaning up a break room when you find it a mess when no one is around. Kind is opening the door for the person behind you no matter who it is. Kind is making sure that you don’t put food that an animal would want in garbage that would be sitting outside for a few days waiting for the trash pick up causing danger for that animal, and instead just leaving it beside the dustbin so it can be eaten safely. Kind is loving everyone, no matter what, and doing it without notice. Kind is internal and is its own reward.

 

I doubt anyone knows what charities I give to, other than when I mention “Hey, you should give to these folks, they do good work.” When I have the option, I choose careers where I am helping people, because I feel that if you have to work to earn money, you should do it in a way that helps, or at least does no harm.

 

When I help someone and they ask what I want out of it, I understand that they are used to the transaction nature of “Niceness”, and I usually make a joke of it by saying that owe me a burrito. I rarely press the issue and people rarely buy me the burrito. And that’s fine. I can afford all the burritos I want now that I am working nearly constantly.

 

That’s why I say you’ve got to love EVERYBODY. Nice people love those who give them things. Kind people love everyone, even those who hate them.

 

I am nowhere near perfect. This does not come easily or instinctually to me for whatever reason, and it didn’t start in me until I decided I had to learn how to love UNCONDITIONALLY. It’s not religion, it’s not spirituality, it’s not philosophy.

 

It’s a choice. Every day. To look at the world through the eyes of love instead of the yes of fear. Nice people fear that if they aren’t nice, things will be taken from them. Kind people don’t care what is taken because they have themselves and with that, they have an infinite capability to give. Nice people look for a return on an investment. Kind people don’t think of the future and instead what they can do to make things better now.

 

I have a solid tribe that reminds me to be kind by showing me that kindness. They are the examples I try to live up to and kind people remind me of what a right bastard I used to be.

 

Much love to friends old and new and I hope you can see me living up to the creed of The Invisibles: I am fighting for a world where everyone gets what they want. Even our enemies.

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